View Full Version : A look back at Jets 22, Steelers 17

01-17-2011, 03:09 PM
A look back at Jets 22, Steelers 17
January, 17, 2011
Jan 17

By Rich Cimini

Before we get into a week of breathless hype for the AFC Championship Game, New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers, let's take a quick look back to the last meeting. On Dec. 19, at Heinz Field, the Jets won, 22-17. Do you remember:

This was a significant game for QB Mark Sanchez, in more ways than one. He entered the game in a three-game slump, having thrown at least one interception in nine straight games. The fan base was getting restless, even his own coach was starting to express doubt, but Sanchez delivered a mistake-free, workmanlike performance. He passed for only 170 yards, but he did a nice job of handling the Steelers' complex zone blitzes. He scored the Jets' only touchdown on a seven-yard bootleg on a fourth-and-1.

This also was the game that Sanchez sustained the injury to his right shoulder. It came on a first-quarter scramble. He went down awkwardly, receiving a shot in the back fronm OLB James Harrison. Sanchez stayed in the game, never missing a play.

Steelers S Troy Polamalu didn't play because of an Achilles' injury. Not to detract from Sanchez's game, but the Polamalu factor was huge. He's a sideline to sideline player, a monster playmaker. He's back in the lineup now, although you have to wonder if he's completely healthy.

The Jets' offense entered the game in a nine-quarter touchdown drought. Although one touchdown (the Sanchez bootleg) can hardly be classified as an explosion, the offense regained much of its confidence in this game. The ran the ball for 106 yards against the league's top-ranked rush defense, which was good enough to keep Sanchez out of obvious passing situations. Backup G Rob Turner was deployed for about 15 snaps as an extra blocker, and he was instrumental in the running game.

Brian Schottenheimer called his best game of the year, breaking tendencies and keeping the Steelers ffbalance. Afterward, several players raved about Schottenheimer's work. This was a turning-point game for Braylon Edwards, who made tough catch after tough catch. Since then, Edwards has been huge.

The offensive line did a fantastic job with pass protection, allowing only one sack for zero yards. LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and RT Wayne Hunter (he made his first career start) held up against bookend rushers Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

Brad Smith provided early fireworks, returning the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. That was a huge emotional lift for a team on a two-game losing streak. Smith's health is an issue this time, as he's recovering from a significant groin injury.

The biggest negative to emerge from this game was the Jets' leaky run defense. Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 99 yards on 17 carries. It was a wake-up call for the Jets' defense, which prides itself on stopping the run.

The Jets' defensive philosophy began to shift in this game. Because of Ben Roethlisberger's ability to make plays outside the pocket, the Jets used a spy and dropped extra players into coverage. On the game's final drive, they actually played a p-p-p-revent-style defense. (Rex Ryan never would admit that, but it was a bend-but-don't-break scheme -- and it worked.) Since then, the Jets have gotten away from the pressure-oriented schemes, leaning more on coverage.

The Jets caught a huge break in this game, as S Dwight Lowery got away with a pass-interference on the Steelers' final drive, a penalty that would've set up the Steelers inside the Jets' 10.

01-17-2011, 03:55 PM
Well, I guess there's no need for us to play the game. Just give them the trophy and a plane ticket to Dallas. I'm so gald they cleared all of this up. Whew! For a few days I was thinking we had a chance of beating the Jets. Guess not.